GUWAHATI: The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has created a unique system to keep elephants away from railway tracks. It has downloaded the sound of honeybees in across of its divisions at select level crossings where elephant zones exist. The idea was implemented late last year, and the number of mammoths dying from colliding with trains has drastically reduced. This year, only six elephants have died, a dramatic drop from 2013's 19 elephants, 2014's five, nine in 2016, and 10 in 2017. Lokesh Narayan, Additional General Manager, NFR, said, “We installed this in Rangiya division and once it was successful we have installed it in other locations as well. This was started barely six months back.”
The NFR uses an electronic “buzzer” to keep animals at bay. While elephant-repulsion techniques like the chili bomb and electric fences have been used earlier, this buzzing sound has been the most effective and cost-efficient. It is a simple device that amplifies the recorded sound of honeybees downloaded from the internet. The device only costs around Rs 2000 to put together, an is audible to an elephant 600 metres away. The NFR covers northern West Bengal and parts of eastern Bihar, along with the northeastern states.
Railways has put in place several measures to ensure elephants do not get killed in collision with trains. It has imposed 49 temporary speed restrictions of 20/25 kmph over a total of 109 km in different stretches. “We have also created this WhatsApp group with forest officials for real time information sharing. This alerts the loco pilot in real time basis when elephants are spotted,” Narayan said. He also added that a proposal of fencing of 109 km in different stretches has also been given by the railways.